RDI – Relationship Development Intervention



What is the relationship definition? Gne doesn’t know. Do you know it? It’s great that you know what is the relationship. As we know, a relationship has many forms. There is one kind of relationship that infant, toddlers and young children, even adult who associated with autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder) doesn’t know about it.

Unconditional love

Parents always love their children no matter what. A mother will sacrifice everything to protect her child. A mother can put another individual’s life into a dangerous situation in order to save her children. Gne cannot blame that mother is a bad person because Gne understands that is the maternal love. There is one love which is greater than maternal love. Do you know it? For the Western countries, you might not see it very clear, but for the Eastern countries, specific Asian countries, a love for the country and the responsibilities for the country are the greater love than maternal love. Gne doesn’t know the mother answer if she needs to choose between her child safety and the country safety. It totally depends on the mother’s personality.

That is the unconditional love. As same as a father. The unconditional love is more visible when a father has a daughter.

The unconditional love occurs when two adults meet each other. It has another name which is a romantic love relationship. However, Gne won’t dig deeper into the love between couples here. Gne would like to talk more about the maternal love, the parenting unconditional love to the child.

For the child or children that have a special need, parents would have a harder time. Looking for the treatment of the child with ASD, parents will try anything. Gne might make the parenting love into the perfect love, but does Gne oversaying?

In the previous post about parents training, or parent management therapy, Gne shared that PRT and ESDM has a session which allows parents to involve to the child intervention process. Here, with RDI, both parents no need to seek the therapists because RDI will train parents into a consultant for their own children.

That is one reason why RDI is unique and different from other therapies, other programs that derived from ABA.

 Why is RDI unique to ABA?

The first reason is the own RDI. RDI has a different approaching to the autism child’s treatment. ABA seeks the child’s behaviors as the heart problem. RDI look at a different angle: relationship, more specific about the parent-children relationship.

Second, RDI is not a therapy. Even the word “intervention” in Relationship Development Intervention could interchangeable with therapy and treatment, but the RDI uses the parent-child love as the tool. It’s natural unless both parents don’t want to see their children anymore for some reasons. Another scenario for a mother abandoning her own giving-birth child is…love also. When you love too much, there will have one point where the love takes the negative form. The hate is the love. Just like two side coins. If you don’t love the child as a result of the child biological father’s betray, what is the name the relationship between you and the child then?

And below is the why from a mother who has the child with autism, and she has been used the RDI for her children

 What RDI about?


Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) is a system of behavior modification through positive reinforcement. RDI was developed by Dr. Steven Gutstein as a family-based behavioral treatment using dynamic intelligence and addressing autism’s core symptoms. RDI aims to help individuals with autism form personal relationships by gradually strengthening the building blocks of social connections. This includes the ability to form an emotional bond and share experiences.


Besides the term above, RDI considers as a neuro-cognitive approach. In simple word, RDI will start with the child’s brain. The certificated RDI consultant will guide the child to achieve

  • Declarative language: they will guide the child how to use the verbal language plus the non-verbal
  • Emotional reference
  • Flexible thinking
  • Foresight and hindsight
  • Relationship information processing
  • Social coordination

How RDI works?

This video will explain better than Gne

Gne shares a little real insight into how the RDI works.

Since the child is unique by associated with ASD, this RDI is also unique and pairing with the child. It means RDI will work well with some children with autism, and in another hand, RDI makes no different with some.

If the RDI works for the child, the process has 4 stages:

  1. Restoring: here is the first stage for restoring the relationship between parents and the autism child. As the result of some disconnection in the autism child brain, the child is lacking about social communication, including the communication with parents. Usually, with the normal infant, both parents need to stay with the infant and communicate with the infant 24/7 for the mother with the purpose to build the relationship. Actually, the unconditional love from mother to the infant is always there. However, for the infant, at first, the infant needs to learn who is the father, who is the mother, and much more circumstances. With infant diagnosed with ASD, the baby doesn’t understand much about the relationship between he/she with both adults who the baby called father and mother. The first stage RDI is restoring the relationship from the child to parents
  2. Understanding: At this stage, parents will learn how to slow down and work with the child to develop a deeper understand the child’s need, want. Gne sees this is more important than the first stage since it applies to any relationship. Once you can understand other parties (in this situation is the child), you can help and guide to become a better version of self.
    1. Gne would like to share a little bit because Gne parents don’t understand Gne, and they don’t know that Gne has autism right in the childhood. Or Gne parents doesn’t maintain the good relationship (perhaps they don’t have time to do it)-> therefore, Gne still argues with parents
    2. Parents also will learn some non-verbal communication and verbal channel for the child. Parents will teach the child how to show emotion, feeling, empathy, etc.
  3. Preparing: after maintain and more understanding, it’s time for parents to prepare, to teach, to guide the child the life skills, the social skills, everything for the adult life and for the real world outside the family.
  4. Becoming: The last stage is pure about the own child alone. Parents still stay as a guide.

Who can help and be help?

This is the reversal relationship. As parents interact with the child, parents will learn more about the spectrum. As long communicating with the parents, the autism child will understand and know more; therefore, the child behaviors will change.

At first sign up with RDI for the child, parents are encouraged to join the session with the child. Besides, RDI also offers the opportunity for the parents to be trained-> get the certificated RDI consultant for their own child-> beyond, parents can design the objective goals which fit with their children.

It’s obvious. The autism child is the beneficiary.

 When should parents change into the RDI for the autism child?

There are a lot of family’s stories share that RDI changed the child, also change the parent’s viewpoint. There is a family when the child is using the ABA for 2 years. The parents work with BCBA therapist to modify the plan, but the child shows no improvement. Then, as parents learn about the RDI, as they try the RDI a few months, the child shows some significant change. -> it means it would be the best scenario: ABA or other interventions, treatments, therapies have a block, reach the dead end road. However, the RDI opens one new road for the autism child becoming normal like peers.

Where can you find more information?

The website RDIconnect is the where-to-go. At there, you can find the trained consultants. If you have the willing to becoming a consultant, they also have some training. There are some training based at home, some knowledge training you can watch online as a webinar. Some special, private schools have the RDI program as well.

Do you have the relationship problem with the autism child? are you willing to work with the child for a better relationship, a better understanding fond between parent-children? What do you think about the RDI program so far? Leave a reply below.

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